In today’s increasingly digitized business world, we as business professionals are starting to see increased popularity in automation. And, thanks to this increase in automation, companies are starting to see the benefit to their bottom line — there’s an increase in worker efficiency (since AI, computers, robots, etc., don’t have to worry about things like bathroom breaks, lunch hours, and 8-hour workday caps), an increase in accuracy, and an increase in work speed.
Despite all the benefits automation brings to all types of businesses, it’s important to understand the areas in which automation is a powerful tool, and how automation initiatives must be combined, effectively, with human engagement. Furthermore, it’s important to remember that while automation is beneficial, human engagement is essential.
The Benefits of Automation
According to Beroe, the BPO’s ecosystem has always been driven by the need for constantly improving processes (in both the forms of employee expenditure efficiency and financial efficiency). Automation, then, is best served in the following areas:
- Information Technology
- Purchase Order Processing
- Supply Chain (supply, demand, materials, transportation)
- Any other specific process that can be “learned” by machines to increase productivity and efficiency
It bears stating, from the get-go, that robots and AI have no built-in “intelligence.” Rather, they can only operate based on specific programs that need to be designed by human beings. (And this, arguably, is the biggest argument in favour of the so-called “human touch,” which you can read about in the next section.
Why is Human Touch So Important?
According to the Huffington Post, even though machines help with productivity, there are two types of automated processes that each business has to consider. The first type of automation is the type where technology completely replaces workers (an example would be an automated elevator vs. an elevator operated by a human). But the second — and, arguably, most important — a type of automation is the type that makes the human worker, himself/herself, more production (an example would be a construction worker using a pneumatic nail gun instead of using a hammer and nails for large projects).
The latter type of automation is the best illustration of the need for the so-called “human touch.” When productivity is merely improved, and not completely automated, human labour is still essential.
In addition, human engagement will always be needed in areas which automation cannot do. As was previously mentioned, computers/robots/AI can only do what they’re programmed to do — whereas humans have active creativity and the ability to make judgment calls outside of standardized processes.
Maintaining the Right Balance
According to QZ, humans — and the businesses that employ them — need to take an active role in striking the right balance between automation and the so-called “human touch.” Automation is necessary in business because it releases human labour from the obligation to perform specific and non-personal tasks (such as, for example, tabulating a worker’s hours). Additionally, as QZ explains, business owners have to understand that tasks that require qualities that are considered traditionally “human” (such as “creativity, empathy, critical thinking, leadership, [and] artistic expression”) cannot, and should not, be automated. Finally, but certainly, no less important, business owners have to be flexible over a period of time, and make adjustments to what is — and isn’t — a necessary and/or automated process. By approaching the company’s overall financial and productive health in a holistic manner, businesses will be able to maintain the right balance between man and machine.
For more information speak to a consultant at Taskeater